I haven't posted in a very long time - I'm an unashamed lurker, and love reading everyone's updates, stories, successes. But I wanted to share our recent tummy tales, as this is the kind of information I was looking for not long ago. That said, this is very much my experience, and likely to be different in depending on your circumstances Ellis, my almost-one-year-old eek black male lab, has never had brilliant stools. We always put it down to him being a puppy, and that they'd firm up eventually. When he was quite little he had a terrible bout of 24hr garbage disease - mostly back end - and had a few spells of diarrhoea since. Around six weeks ago, maybe eight, we had another 'situation'. Not to be too graphic, this generally meant up every 1-2 hours through the night needing to empty, going from runny to runnier to mucus. Often on two consecutive nights. Since we got him, we started to hone into what worked for him, which was a few days on Hill's i/d to settle his tum, then phasing back into his usual food. That worked fine for a week or so, when all of a sudden our always-ravenous lab didn't want his breakfast. Alarm bells went off...and my hubby took him to the vet to try to figure out what was up. They gave us a very general diagnosis of colitis, or an inflammation of his large intestine. They asked us to collect three days' worth of stool samples for testing, which we diligently did. By the time we brought the sample in for testing (a Friday), Ellis was on the mend. And by the time we got the all clear for all nasties they could test for - bacteria, parasites and the like - he was fine. Cue the following night, and we were back to garden trips every hour or so. We thought we'd go back to our tried-and-tested approach (i/d), which worked fine. Once settled, we decided to transition him onto a 'better', more protein-rich diet over time to see if that would improve things. We decided on Nature's Menu, their tinned food - I think it's called something like Hunter's Menu. Now don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely not knocking Nature's Menu, but as we moved onto this food, which he'd had bits of in his Kongs over previous weeks, things went from bad to worse. So back to the vet's we went, this time for blood tests. And guess what? They came back all clear again. Our vet recommended trying an exclusion diet, to see if he has a food allergy or intolerance, and as Ellis has always done well on Hill's i/d, we thought we'd use the Hill's version (the commercial veterinary diets include Purina and Royal Canin). I recognise home-grown, natural options are also available, but I just didn't trust myself to meddle... I did read up on Hill's z/d, and have seen various documentaries about the downsides of commercial dog food, kibble in particular. In fact, one of the review sites I looked at had it down as 2/4 or 2/5, not the best impression! But Ellis has thrived on the diet for the last three to four weeks. His coat is looking fantastic - it always had, but every walk someone comments on it now - he's happy and calm, and no longer producing the offensive farts that generally used to clear the room. The main reason I wanted to share this is because there isn't always a clear answer...and just because something is reviewed as 'good' (Nature's Menu, which I believe is an excellent choice, but may have been too rich for our pup...that said, his issues may have nothing to do with the brand!) or 'bad' (Hill's), doesn't necessarily mean that applies to your dog. Over the weekend, Ellis managed to pinch three BBQ skewers , a trifecta of meat including pork, beef and lamb to no ill effect. I don't know if that means I can now exclude these as the issue, bearing in mind these were all seasoned and spiced, or if his new diet is giving him a generally stronger constitution, or if it's a complete fluke. He's indulged in a few cat poos over the last few days - why oh why?! - and I can hear his tummy rumbling as I type. Wish me luck... Don't think this latest delicacy is part of the exclusion/reintroduction plan!